Samuel Coleridge Taylor was an unusual figure in Edwardian ENGLAND: a young black composer from a poor background, who succeeded in winning the adulation of audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
He was repeatedly invited to visit America to conduct the work which had made him famous - his choral trilogy The Songs of Hiawatha.
In ENGLAND too, no other work, except perhaps Handel's Messiah, approached Hiawatha in popularity for nearly ten years.
As part of the BBC's celebration of Black History Month, Donald Macleod explores the life and times of Samuel Coleridge Taylor and plays some of his lesser-known pieces alongside the epic work which earned him the nickname 'The Hiawatha Man'.
This is the Island of Gardens
Arthur Reckless (baritone)
Ballade in Dm
Michael Ludwig (violin)
Virginia Eskin (piano)
Harold Wright (clarinet)
Hawthorne String Quartet.
Coleridge-Taylor received a formal education, rooted in the European musical tradition, but early in his career he became aware of his black cultural heritage and was at pains to acknowledge it in his music. Donald Macleod introduces the suite inspired by his encounter with the black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, and two works which put Coleridge-Taylor on the map - the Four Characteristic Waltzes and his Ballade in A minor.
Coleridge-Taylor was catapulted to fame almost overnight, after the premiere of his choral work Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. Its success changed the course of his life. Donald Macleod introduces the work which, for a while, made Coleridge-Taylor one of the most popular composers in ENGLAND.
Invitations began to flood in from home and abroad for Coleridge-Taylor to conduct performances of his choral trilogy Hiawatha. In America he was held up as a role model for the black community, a shining example of how talent, intelligence and application could overcome prejudice and disadvantage. Donald Macleod introduces three works influenced by the African American music he discovered on his trips to the States and another setting by the poet behind Hiawatha - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Donald Macleod introduces some of Coleridge-Taylor's most popular works from his final years.